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Judge rejects lawyer’s ‘extraordinary’ PAGA claim fees

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Before the judge’s intervention, workers involved in the class-action suit – which involved lunch break nonpayment and overtime – would have received between $9.31 and $11.42 for every week covered by the claim. Kapetan instead awarded the main plaintiff $10,000, and proposed paying the plaintiff lawyer $162,645, a rate of $700 per hour.

PAGA claims more prevalent after August change to Act

As reported in HRD on August 21, a new court decision has made it possible for “aggrieved” employees to arbitrate an individual PAGA claim against an employer, and still bring a representative action to civil court.

“That’s hard for employers, because these PAGA cases are very costly in the Supreme Court, and they are also very easy for plaintiffs to prove some kind of violation,” said Ted Bacon, labor and employment attorney with Frost Brown Todd. “Just the nature of the damages are so high – in order to fight it, you’ve got to spend a lot of money.”

Under the current PAGA law, an employee can make one PAGA individual claim, and if they lose that claim, they are not able to pursue a PAGA representative claim. They can, however, participate in a representative PAGA action for a different violation, he told HRD.

Lawyer recommendation for avoiding PAGA claims

A way for employers to potentially reduce PAGA litigation costs is by including a ”stay of the representative action pending the individual claim” in employee arbitration agreements, Bacon said.

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